I remember when I first started searching around on TpT for products I could use and ideas for making my own products. One of the first types of product that caught my eye was task cards. They seemed to be everywhere. And I really liked the sound of it. But the truth was that I didn’t really even know what they were. I had to find out more.
The more I researched and found out about them the more I realized how simple an idea task cards really are. A task card is basically just a problem separated out from a group of other problems similar to it. This one task allows a student or students the opportunity to focus on one problem at a time. However, it is so much more than that. It is a tool that opens up a world of versatility to the teacher. Here are some variations:
1) students choose v teachers choose
Teachers can choose the content that is going to be addressed. In this way, the teacher maintains control and is able to ensure that the pacing of work and the order it is covered will follow the overall plan for the year.
Students pick which problems to work on giving them choice that they much desire. It brings with it the engagement and efficacy to make the task worthwhile.
2) individual work v group work
The cards can be used to differentiate by giving students these tasks individually if appropriate. Or, small groups can work on them. Groups can be used in several ways. Sometimes small groups could be used to help the struggling students who have trouble even getting started at all when they are on their own. Also, a competitive aspect can be added if multiple groups have the same set of cards via time constraints or point values per card. Additionally, small groups can be used to allow students struggling on certain topics to be put together so that the teacher can help them all at once.
3) practice v quiz
Task cards are great for practice, but they can also be used as a short assessment (see below).
4) formative v summative
Task cards are great for seeing what students know before or after the teaching.
5) active v static
Task cards are short which allows them to be used in short periods of time. This gives the teacher the chance to use them in stations that keep the students active versus static like a typical worksheet.
6) starter v finisher
They can be used as a bellringer/warmup activity or as a post-discussion activity like an exit ticket.
My personal favorite is #3. Here is how I do it…
All of the task cards relating a certain topic are laminated. Several copies of each card are provided so that there are enough for the entire class.
The students are given a response sheet to record a certain number of answers along with the work that goes with them. A task card is distributed to each student, and the remaining cards are placed on a table at the front of the room.
As each student finishes a problem, they come to the front of the room and exchange their task card for a new one. This does require some movement during the quiz, but this small & short movement helps them clear their minds between problems. They also get some choice on the problem they work, and it drastically lowers the chance of copying another’s work/answers since they are likely to be working on different problems.
It is such a versatile tool.
What are your ideas for using task cards?